Weekly meal planner template
At some point, between a takeout from the shop on the corner and a pizza delivery in the late evening, we all start thinking that we, after all, are what we eat. What you consume on a daily basis has a significant impact on your physical appearance and overall well-being. Your food choices are more important than you may think.
Listening to yourself and eating intuitively are great. However, in today's fast-paced world, with unhealthy food readily available everywhere, it can be challenging or even impossible for some. Planning your meals simplifies your life, prevents impulsive grocery purchases, and assists you in maintaining a consistent diet.
Weekly meal planners are especially beneficial when you have a busy schedule and find it challenging to decide on meals each day. By creating a weekly menu and sticking to it, you can alleviate this burden and ensure a structured approach to your eating habits.
To facilitate this process, a meal planning tool serves as a valuable tool. The xTiles Weekly Meal Planner allows you to organize your meal plans, shopping lists, meal ideas, and recipes effectively.
What does meal planning mean?
Meal planning refers to the process of creating a weekly diet menu that caters to your nutritional requirements and your tastes. It’s crucial to create a plan that covers both of these aspects if you’re interested in keeping your healthy diet for a long time.
Meal planning involves selecting meals in advance to eliminate uncertainty during dinnertime, staying within a budget, and staying on track with your nutrition goals. If you’re responsible for feeding your family, you may discuss your meals, allowing your kids to learn about a healthy and responsible approach to food and consumerism.
Meal planning can be beneficial for various purposes, such as weight loss, improving cholesterol levels, lowering blood pressure, blood sugar control, meeting the dietary needs of athletes, adhering to a food budget, or organizing meals for an entire family or organization of any kind.
Many people are obliged to follow various types of meal plans tailored to manage specific health conditions. These specialized meal plans are often developed with input from registered dietitians or healthcare providers. On the other hand, individuals without specific health concerns typically create their own meal plans by choosing nutritious recipes that they and their families enjoy.
What are the benefits of using a meal planner?
There are numerous compelling reasons to plan your meals ahead of time, as it's an excellent way to get organized and have a roadmap for the week, or even more if you prefer to have a plan for longer periods of time without the need to think what to cook next for a couple of weeks.
While it requires a bit of effort initially to consider your upcoming meals, having a solid plan in place alleviates the stress associated with daily meal planning and cooking. This can be particularly valuable for individuals with demanding work schedules who have no time to cook every evening, those managing health conditions like diabetes who need to keep control over their diet at all times, or those responsible for feeding a family who needs to satisfy all members and provide them with healthy nutritious food at the same time.
If you don’t like the idea of following a plan because you often satisfy your cravings from time to time, it's worth noting that adhering strictly to the meal plan isn't essential. You don’t have to start from the beginning or make a new plan if instead of having a salad for dinner, you ordered a pizza. Even a rough guide can significantly reduce the stress of grocery shopping and meal preparation you experience each week.
A weekly menu organizer also facilitates the adoption of a healthy eating pattern. Without a plan, you might find yourself more inclined to make simple decisions when it comes to deciding what there will be for dinner. For example, after a long and busy day at work, stopping at McDrive when heading home may seem the greatest idea ever. However, being aware of a nutritious and delightful meal awaiting you at home can diminish the allure of that easy yet totally empty-for-your-body option.
Adopting healthier eating habits benefits everyone, but it is particularly advantageous for individuals who require careful attention to their food choices, such as those with type 2 diabetes or heart disease. Healthy eating might seem overwhelming for people who can’t fail their diet because of consequences regarding their health. And a plan may help them control what they eat without feeling oppressed by their diet.
In case you build a meal planner to suit your dietary needs, you may need to start by examining what food is appropriate for your condition, which foods complement each other, and what your doctor recommends. There is a short way. You may go for ready-to-use meal plans for people with the same diseases as yours. However, you never know who made the planner, whether those people possess expertise in the field, etc. That’s why it’s safer to create your own weekly diet meal planner and discuss it with your doctor or nutritionist.
And last advantage but not least, meal planning can lead to potential cost savings by reducing the frequency of eating out and curbing food waste. Visiting a grocery store without a plan may be dangerous to your budget. You may buy whatever appeals to you at the moment without any idea of what to do with it later. That’s how many groceries end up in your trash bin after having a short vacation in your refrigerator. However, by planning out your meals, you gain clarity on what and how much food to purchase, resulting in less wastage of food (and money).
How to create a meal plan using the xTiles Weekly Meal Planner Template?
Using a free weekly meal planner template can greatly assist in maintaining a healthy diet and ensuring nutritious meals and snacks, even in the midst of a busy life. Meal planning not only saves time and money but also helps reduce food waste, which is extremely important for the planet and ecology these days.
Here are 10 easy steps to plan your meals:
- Allocate time for planning:
Dedicate a specific time each week to create your meal plan. Consider the number of meals you need to prepare, and decide whether you need quick meals or ones that can be prepped in advance. Since it’s a plan for only a week, you can change that depending on how busy you will be.
- Create a list of needed groceries:
Your meal planning starts by creating your grocery list. You can plan your upcoming week’s meals using what already is in your refrigerator, but it may be quite a challenge to combine ingredients that were bought with any specific idea for their utilization in mind. We recommend starting your meal-planning journey with a clean page.
Trying to remember everything might result in forgetting essential items. Review the ingredients you need and cross out any items you already have to avoid overbuying. You can do it straight in your xTiles Weekly Meal Planner or use your xTiles mobile app to take quick notes if you create your grocery list on the go.
One of the secrets of staying on track is to stick to your shopping list. When you come home with a certain kit of ingredients, you have to continue and cook what was planned in the first place.
- Assess your existing ingredients:
Take stock of the ingredients you already have in your pantry, refrigerator, or freezer. Check the "use-by" dates to prioritize using up items nearing expiration. Plan your meals around these ingredients.
Proper food storage is essential, so follow guidelines on labels, and arrange items with newer ones at the back. Also, it’s important to label foods before freezing them so that it will be easier to find something in your freezer for you or anyone who would need to do that.
Also, checking out the frozen food section in the store never hurts, especially if it's winter and fresh veggies are limited in your region. The frozen food section offers many convenient options, such as grain and vegetable blends that can be quickly cooked in the microwave or on the stove. Opt for items without added sauces or sugar to avoid unintentionally increasing the amount of calories you consume.
- Prepare your vegetables and fruits as soon as you return home from a store:
Fruits and vegetables are perfect for adding to different dishes or enjoying as a quick standalone snack with or without condiments and dips. And when you have them washed and chopped, there’s one less thing you need to take care of when cooking.
- Choose recipes suitable for you and your lifestyle:
If you google “recipes”, you will get approximately 6 570 000 000 results. How many years a common person will need to at least check all of them, given the fact that the number constantly grows? God knows. That’s why it’s important to choose recipes that are right for you.
Consider your schedule and the specific style of recipe you need. Are you looking for quick weeknight dinners? Or are you ready to spend the whole day in the kitchen? Then, take stock of the ingredients in your pantry, refrigerator, or freezer. Also, it’s important to check whether you have all the devices needed. For example, if you want to take a homemade marshmallow snack to work, you will need a powerful mixer.
Finally, check the weekly sale circulars from your local grocery stores to identify items that are on sale or in season. This allows you to make the most of your grocery budget.
- Incorporate favorite meals:
Create a go-to list of meals that you enjoy and can easily prepare. If you’re creating a plan for a family, ask everyone to learn their preferences for sure.
Save new recipes for when you have extra time on the relevant sections of your xTiles Weekly Meal Planner Template.
- Cook in bulk:
Cook extra portions and store leftovers in the fridge or freezer. Pies, curries, stews, and casseroles freeze well. It will be a fast solution for unexpected guests or times when you have no energy or time to cook something.
When using the oven, consider cooking additional items simultaneously. For example, while making a casserole, you can also cook chicken breasts for sandwiches.
- Cook whole grain in advance:
You can cook a batch of brown rice or farro, for example, and incorporate it into multiple recipes throughout the week. This way, you will have a base for all or most of your dishes, and if things get hectic, all you need to do is quickly cook a salad or uncaned your tuna and add some veggies. And wah-la! A highly nutritious meal is ready.
- Optimize ingredient usage:
Select recipes that share common key ingredients. For instance, if you have roast chicken, use it in dishes like chicken stir-fry or chicken sandwiches. Choose 2-3 main vegetables that can be added to various dishes such as meat, pasta, or fish preparations.
- Stick & repeat:
When preparing new meals or experimenting with favorite ones, it’s important to make notes about what worked and what didn't. You may do it quickly using your xTiles mobile app and get your notes on your desktop version to improve your Meal Planner.
Your meal plan can be changed if your plans change. However, it’s important to stick to what was planned at the beginning of the week. Otherwise, there’s no or little point in planning.
How to make your meal planning even more effective?
Repetition is crucial for meal planning, yet everything is about a healthy balance that will keep you satisfied, motivated to continue, and well-fed.
While you don't have to eat the exact same thing every day, reducing the number of different meals during the week can simplify the process. Selecting two or three breakfast options and two or three lunch options (at most) and introducing variety through dinner and snacks are usually enough to keep a person enjoying their meals. If you’re not a picky eater or your family isn’t against it, you may even repeat these meals for a few weeks before introducing new options.
Maintaining a few staple meals each week can help prevent overwhelm while still ensuring variety. Another great option is experimenting with current dishes. By trying different alternatives, you can modify the recipes while keeping the structure consistent. Also, it will help keep your interest in cooking and may become a hobby you love.
If you plan your meals for a week, you will need to allocate a few hours on a less hectic day to cook recurring meals, ensuring you're prepared for the week. There always are options that require less time spent in the kitchen. For example, classic oatmeal may become overnight oats. You simply put together the uncooked oatmeal, yogurt, and any other ingredients you like to add and put it into the refrigerator.
You may free yourself from following your meal plan once a week. If you typically order food once a week, include that in your plan to avoid scheduling a meal for dinner on that day. Usually, people choose that option for Fridays, as till the end of the week their refrigerator is empty and their enthusiasm to cook is low.
If you or any family members have food allergies, dietary restrictions, or strong dislikes, try to make the meal inclusive to avoid preparing multiple dishes for everyone to save time and ingredients. For instance, anyone can enjoy gluten-free dishes so that you won’t have to cook both versions.
A meal planner template will help you manage your plans easier, especially if you’re new to the concept of planning and preparing your meals beforehand. The adaptation stage may last for a few weeks until you find the optimal menu. During this time, you’re free to edit your planner as many times as you want. Additionally, you can have it together with your shopping list.